It has been only ten days and we; the inhabitants of Madrid, still carry on our shoulders the immeasurable burden of grievance, sadness and recollection, but also the spirit of solidarity and keen understanding.
Only ten days and we walked the streets and plazas, crossed avenues in silence, drove our cars with glassy eyes, lost in expectancy and in a tremendous shock. Only those of us who were blessed and lucky enough not to lose any of our loved ones in the death trains were more or less unaffected, but always thoughtful about those people near us who found their destiny that morning, perhaps for having arrived too early or too late.
A name, surnames, voices, gazes. Madrid reminded us of Hiroshima after World War II. All of us could feel in the air the psychological expansiveness of the gunpowder wave caused by the explosion in each of the four trains.
It wasn’t the time to run madly, shouting widely to all four winds that it was the end of the world, nor to hide in our homes totally scared, under the wings of that Leviathan that Hobbes describes as the mortal god that emerges among men protecting them if at the cost of losing rights, fundamentally theirs, just for being men. However that very same Hobbes, when defining “state”, describes it as “one person, of whose acts a great multitude, by mutual covenants one with another, have made themselves every one the author, to the end he may use the strength and means of them all as he shall think expedient for their peace and common defence.” (Hobbes, T. Leviathan, part II chapter 17).
But as we became more and more aware of the fact that besides two hundred two dead and fifteen hundred wounded, existing victims from the barbarous and senseless act, all of us had left behind something of ourselves in those trains, and that it had been a cruel attack against sheer existence by those who summoning the “true religion” repress the life of those who apparently do not profess such creed, we took rapid action, showing the world our undaunted exercise of reflection, and that our spirit remain more vivid than ever, being fed by these events.
Madrid went over Madrid. Eye witnesses threw themselves without hesitation to help every possible victim; security and health assistance forces worked ceaselessly through entire shifts, doubling them when necessary: blood donation centres were full to capacity, and instead of calling for more blood, they constantly thanked people with the syringes already in their arms. Blood supply was more than satisfied. Psychological help was already available by citizens, anonymous or not, simply for the urge to attend anyone needing it.
In spite of such solidarity, a more dangerous ghost hovered the ambient air. It wasn’t even the fear for after-attacks, instead, it was a sole question: “WHO?” Question which was not answered but two days afterwards, at least as to what was of concern within the Spanish boundaries, where news signalled “E.T.A.” the terrorist band that have been killing in Spain for more than thirty years, and that just a week ago tried to kill in this very same city with similar means of terror. However, the world voice declared Al Qaeda as perpetrators of this killing, thus confirming the most dreaded suspicion.
The Spaniards were not prepared (no one is) to receive this news. Just a year ago, more than ten million people in this country, took to the streets to demand of this Leviathan to refuse any participation in the massacre which took place in Iraq not too long after; to refuse to support the imperial government of the U.S. in perpetrating the atrocious acts happening in the Middle East; and to avoid endangering Spain, that weak link of the chain called “Axis of Good”, to become another target of the Islamic fundamentalism, by adding another terrorist organization, keen to kill, to its already disgraceful list.
But power enraptures and the zeal for protagonist of Aznar, a false leader disregarded the practical unanimity of the Spaniards who put him in office to watch over the wellbeing of his citizens and not over his own personal interests or those of his party.
Things didn’t come out well for the “Azores Trio”. The terrorist attack rose at the worst timing. The events happening merely three days prior to the general elections could reinforce or at worst condemn the government role during the last two years.
The massive call to the booths resulted into an electoral twist against that neo-fascism and favouring moderation in approaching and understanding the talks forfeited since 9/11.
Spain is the first reflection that the people’s will cannot be contravened showing to the world that ultimately we, the “Civil Society”, in capital letters, are the vox populi. Our flag is, and always will be, the peace flag, and the vote we gave last Sunday was for the peace. Including those who endorsed the role of the government, perhaps, citing Hobbes again, in that zeal for protection.
No doubt Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are being forced to refashion a number of unwarranted assertions uttered during the last few days. Now, they manipulate the information assuring that the new President of the Government, legally elected in the Spanish booths Sunday 14, has decided to withdraw his troops from Iraq as an instance following the 3/11 events, in an act of cowardice and retraction. On the contrary, Mr. Rodriguez Zapatero responds only to a cohesion of thinking and to the message issued by the citizens at the macro-concentrations held against war on February 15th, 2003, the macro-concentrations held in support to the 3/11 victims, and the spontaneous macro-concentrations throughout the “Bull’s Skin” that is Spain, held on Saturday 13th, previous to the elections, which ultimately caused the results on Sunday.
Also, the Socialist Government, social-democratic based and not strictly communist as some American media sources state … (media without professional ethics and without a trifle of education, sour, because Spain is turning from capitalism to socialism, do not have a clue that this country consolidated its democratic culture mainly because of the socialist Government headed by Felipe Gonzalez who led the nation – among other things – to the European Union and the NATO) is absolutely convinced that we cannot leave at its means a country like Iraq permanently shrouded with grievance during the entire last year and with those permanent 9/11’s and 3/11’s suffered by the terrified Iraqis individuals who manage to survive.
It has been agreed the troops will remain in Iraq only if the United Nations takes command and the executioners relinquish their interests in the zone.
Still, the challenge is not for those who exhibit the power, but for those of us who walk again the streets and plazas, drive our cars and cross avenues with a vivid latent gaze, convinced that terror, fundamentalist or State terror can only cut lives, but spirits are reborn day after day which help to build better societies here, in the US in Iraq, in Morocco, or Indonesia.
Today we have seen the eyes of the victims; we have heard their grieving and heart-breaking cries. But today we have grown in numbers, in that rebirth of spirit we are much more sensitive to the atrocities performed in any part of our world, and that’s why we fight, from our little place in the planet, for a more rightful world. For peace, dialogue and understanding and for a real ethnic, religious and political pluralism.
*Jose Alfredo Vallejo Canale lives in Madrid and is a Political Scientist. He is collaborating with the Director for Latin America of NAPF to establish the NAPF in Spain.